OZ Cabbie July-August 2014
G'day again. Been a while. You may have been wondering whatever happened to our July issue. Had you been reading OZ Cabbie online <ozcabbie.com> you would already be aware that we have been beset by a string of mishaps. First I caught a bug, which put me out of action for 10 days. Gave me no choice but to cancel July. Then we missed our new printing deadline due to computer glitches and that was followed by the crashing of my Internet connection, which took Bigpond five days to fix. Well, finally here we are with the July/August issue, two months for the price of one, and still fighting ‘the good fight’.
Reading this issue you may come to the conclusion that I am obsessed with Uber’s illegal ‘ride-sharing’ hire car service uberX. You’d be right. It’s a scourge! A vermin! An insurgency!
There is a conspiracy in train between the Liberal governments of Queensland, NSW, Victoria and Western Australia. They are debating what to do about uberX, which despite being declared illegal, is still operating in their respective jurisdiction with impunity. Their neo-con fanaticism tells them to legalize it; their responsibility as regulators and protectors of public safety tell them to ban it. So far the odds are on their ideology winning. The horse hasn’t bolted yet, but once it has, it'll be all too hard for regulators and politicians alike to do anything about it.
To accommodate uberX, the W.A. Liberal parliamentarians have already voted to deregulate the taxi industry, which would make the state’s taxi plates, currently selling for $300,000, absolutely worthless. So what?
Victoria has spent the past three years reforming and re-regulating its industry at a cost of millions of dollars. It was all about improving service, safety and choice. The TSC, the regulator, has just introduced its new fabulous Melbourne Knowledge test to raise the standard of the city’s taxi and hire car drivers while in the same breath allowing a US multinational to launch uberX, a hire car service using unaccredited drivers and cars. Confusion reigns supreme in the corridors of power.
Queensland and NSW are also dithering over what to do about uberX. Imagine, no more complaints from the public about the lack of taxis on Saturday and Sunday mornings, door-to-door transport on demand at half the current fare, unlimited cars available 24/7, no need to run efficient public transport. How good is that. Trading off public and driver safety, trained drivers, vehicle standards, and an industry that employs thousands of people and generates millions of dollars in government revenue is a small price to pay.
As Queensland Premier Campbell Newman famously said: ”I think uberX is a fabulous idea, but I would want my daughters to take a real taxi.”
Well Sir, you can’t have both. It’s a choice between managed quality or uncontrollable quantity, professional drivers or amateurs, prudent safety measures or open slather. That our various conservative governments are even contemplating legalizing a service like uberX is bizarre to say the least. It demonstrates a total ignorance of what Uber’s (i.e. google’s) endgame is. It is reminiscent of the original support by the US of Saddam Hussein in Iraq, only to find they had backed a despot.
Uber’s strategy is to break the law, use its public relations and financial muscle to buy support and wear the authorities down until they capitulate to political pressure. Uber is not about the public good, it’s about power and control and it looks like our political leaders are about to hand that to them on a platter for short-term political gain.
God bless Australia, God bless Silicon Valley.